Twenty-six year-old Blessing Yakubu Atsen has been visually impaired since 2010 owing to wrong medication, and efforts to restore her sight since then have been unsuccessful. That same year, she lost her father during the Jos crises and things became tough for her.
But rather than keep wallowing in self pity, while efforts are still being intensified to restore her sight, she decided to further her education and gained admission into the University of Jos where she is currently studying Rehabilitation Science. She is now in 200 level.
According to Blessing, meeting up with the challenges of her schooling has always been an uphill task, particularly the financial aspect since her father is late and there is no one to assist her. And just two months back also (September), she also lost her mother, adding to her pain and suffering.
Succor however came Blessing’s way as she became a beneficiary of an education empowerment fund for Afizere students of Jos East of Plateau State sponsored by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Joshua Izang Madaki.
The Speaker is the member representing Jos East Constituency.
Under the endowment 130 undergraduates from the constutuency are to receive N15,000 annualy as scholarship. Additionally, Blessing and few other students with special needs are to receive N50,000 yearly scholarship until they graduate.
Blessing, who could not hide her joy, said regardless of her numerous problems that needed to be solved, she would use the money solely for her education.
“I want to extend my sincere gratitude to Hon. Joshua Izang Madaki for this kind gesture, and I pray that God would bless him and bless his endeavours.
“It has really been difficult for me to meet up with the financial challenges of my education and I thought all hope for me is gone. But with this scholarship, I can now solve so many problems, and then concentrate on my studies.
“I lost my father in 2010 during the Jos crises, and in that same year I lost my sight as a result of wrong medication. I hit my face on something and it swelled up, and when I went to my secondary school clinic, they gave me a wrong eye drop; that is what caused the problem.
“`Since then things have been very difficult. And just two months back I lost my mother, on the 12th of September to be precise. She died of breast cancer. Since her death, I have resigned myself to the fact that all hope is now lost, until this scholarship came.
“I was not even aware of the scholarship, but learnt from someone. l then went and acquired the form; that was how I was selected. I can now settle my school fees and other things.’’
She thanked the University of Jos for being “Persons With Disability friendly’’, by providing students with disability with the necessary gadgets that will aid their studies.
“The school provides us with tape recorder, typewriter among other things, and during my exams I type my answers,” she said.
She said the doctors were hopeful that one day she would recover her sight.
Another beneficiary of the scholarship is David Izang, a 38 year-old 200 level student of Special Education in the same university. He is also visually impaired.
He said he never knew that such day would come to pass because he never envisaged it.
Izang said he lost his sight in 2002 as a result of dynamite explosion where they were blasting rocks and all hope of recovering his sight has been lost after two unsuccessful operations.
“When the doctors lost hope on me recovering my sight, they then advised me to go back to school, and that’s what I did. But truly it has not been easy schooling.
“`So I will say that this scholarship is timely and will go a long way in solving my education needs.
“The education/training I am acquiring today is the best thing to happen to me because I have acquired knowledge to make my living condition easier to bear. I move around on my own and I practically do everything for myself,” he said.
For Izang Jessica, who studies at NTA Television College Jos, it was “a big privelege’’ to be among the successful beneficiaries of the scholarship and would use the money to complete her course project.
According to her, her mind would henceforth be concentrated on her academic research (project), rather than the divided attention of working on her project as well as continuous pondering on how to get money to complete it.
Jessica, who is also an orphan, called well-to-do people in the community to emulate Madaki by empowering students in the area so as to build a strong soceity and leave an enduring legacy.
In his remarks, the Speaker, said he was also a beneficiary of a similar scholarship 13 years ago which enabled him to complete his education.
The Speaker, who is not recontesting as a member said his gesture was not political but a desire to help the youths in the community to realise their ambition.
“When I was contesting in 2015, l know the many problems of my constituency, Jos East Local Government. l also know what students pass through.
“I am here today as a speaker and member of the Plateau State House of Assembly because 13 years ago I was aided by my predecessor with similar scholarship which enabled me to complete my education and purse my career.
“So I also feel obligated to also touch the lives of the young ones from my constituency who are pursuing their education,’’ Madaki said.
“I have realized that anything you give/do for the younger ones other than education will not last; that is why l have decided to prioritize it. I know that the token can assist them, no matter how little, in solving their educational challenges and adding values to their lives from the perspective of their various discipline in the higher institution of learning.
“It is my prayer that the beneficiaries would use the money judiciously and tomorrow, we will celebrate them in their various fields/profession, and some of them will even excel higher than where I am today.’’
About N2.5 million have been spent in this first phase of the disbursement covering 130 students.
The event took place at the Izere Arena in Lamingo area of Jos, the Plateau State capital and had people from all walks of life in attendance.